Syria and Iraq among deadliest countries for journalists
Syria and Iraq remain among the worst places in the world for journalists, as each has more than 20 unsolved murders of news gatherers, according to a report.
The analysis, released on Wednesday by the New-York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), ranks the 10 countries with the biggest numbers of unsolved murders of journalists. This year, little has changed within the upper half of the rankings.
Somalia, Syria, Iraq and South Sudan remained in the top four spots, in that order, for the fourth year in a row.
"Incremental progress toward reducing the murders of journalists worldwide is fragile and could be thwarted by legal appeals and lack of political leadership, CPJ found in its latest report on impunity in retaliatory media killings," the group said.
The CPJ based the rankings on the number of journalists slain over the past decade.
Since it began reporting on the killings of reporters internationally in 1992, the organisation has recorded 1,386 murders, and also found that 1,772 reporters have been imprisoned.
In Syria, hundreds of media workers have been killed by government forces, militant groups and other parties since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in 2011.
Many media professionals are afraid to report on the risks and attacks they are exposed to for fear of losing their jobs or being subjected to domestic reprisals.
Recent spike in attacks
Another media freedom group, Reporters Without Borders, ranks Syria in 174th place out of 180 in its list of countries where journalistic work is safest.
Iraq ranked 162 in that same index. While slayings of political opposition figures have been common in the country for years, there has been a recent surge in attacks on women activists and journalists amid a rising prominence of their voices.
Last week, Iraqi authorities issued an arrest warrant for Middle East Eye journalist Suadad al-Salhy over a charge of "defamation".
In 2007, Salhy escaped an attempt on her life, and in 2014 explosive devices were discovered at the entrance of her parents' home.
Both the CPJ and Reporters Without Borders have called on Baghdad to drop the warrant and allow her to do her job without fear of reprisal.